- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 21, 2000

The Gore camp is urging patience, but while it affects this voice of calm, it is launching a no-holds-barred attempt to incite the public's rejection of a likely electoral victory by George W. Bush. In doing so, Mr. Gore and his staff are casting doubt on the integrity of America's democratic process and legal institutions.

The world's reaction to the presidential election clearly demonstrates that Mr. Gore's attempt to effect an outcome more desirable to himself has tarnished America's democratic image abroad. The U.S. electoral process has now become a subject of ridicule and scorn, compliments of the vice president.

Unsubstantiated, and therefore reckless, suggestions immediately following the election that vote fraud may have robbed Mr. Gore of the presidency were unfortunately heard by the world. "Fraud Suspected in the United States," headlined the Mexico City daily Milenio. "American madness: 30,000 votes lost in Florida," read the sub-headline.

Unfortunately, once the United States' democratic stature drops, then its ability to help others bring about democratic progress is severely undermined. A tarnished U.S. image will have consequences for people fighting for free and fair elections around the world.

Hopefully, America's fall from grace will be short-lived. But in the meantime, countries that have been subject to U.S. criticism regarding democratic freedoms see the contested U.S. election as an opportunity for a comic jab. "As you know, our own election (observers) are in the United States right now," said Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been repeatedly criticized for quashing opposition through undemocratic means. "If our American colleagues need help, they can tell them what to do."

Judging from the methods of the Gore staff, a Gore-led administration would be nothing more than a spin-off of the Clinton White House. The unrestrained angling for power for power's sake, the distortion of the truth, the legal contortions and general obstructionist measures are all too familiar. The so-called "Mr. Clean" is looking increasingly smudgy, and he is soiling America's reputation while the whole world watches.

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